Book Cover Contest



  • I have a new book releasing in the fall called #HOCKEYSTRONG. It’s a satire about sports parents insanity. (We all know those parents–never ourselves, of course.) 😉
  • #HOCKEYSTRONG will NOT appeal to my historical fiction fans.
  • It will appeal to people who enjoyed THE NANNY DIARIES, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, and WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE, or TV and film like BEST IN SHOW, DADDY’S HOME, BAD MOMS, and THE OFFICE.
  • I’m writing satire as “E. Robuck” instead of “Erika Robuck”–a subtle distinction.
  • I’m still actively writing historical fiction.


  • Designer extraordinaire, Eric Wilder, came up with three cover concepts, and I want my readers to choose their favorite. (Synopsis below.)
  • Voting will automatically enter you to win a copy of the book.
  • Feel free to share on social media.
  • Voting closes at noon on Friday, August 11th.


If you fail at Pee-Wee Hockey, you fail at life. Right?

Charlie and Kate Miller are involved, supportive parents who have always loved to watch their little athlete play. Until now.

When their son Brett makes a competitive U12 ice hockey team, they have no idea how fully it will engulf their lives. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that to the dad-coach and parents around them youth hockey isn’t just for fun—it’s a way of life.

While the Millers attempt to keep perspective, they slowly find themselves spending endless hours of idle time at the rink, jockeying for the affections of a sadistic coach, keeping up on social media, and interacting with parents—including Real Housewives-like Justin and Piper and super-spirited team parents Bill and Tina—whose shared life goal seems to be Pee Wee Hockey immortality.

Irreverent and acerbic, #Hockeystrong explores the culture of youth sports, suburban politics, and parents behaving very, very badly.

So, which cover is your favorite? A, B, or C? 


New Release for Writers: AUTHOR IN PROGRESS


“Nourishment for the writer’s soul and motivation for the writer’s heart.” –James Scott Bell, best-selling author and writing instructor on AUTHOR IN PROGRESS

From the team at Writers Digest:

“AUTHOR IN PROGRESS, a book for novelists in progress at every level, releases today! Published by Writer’s Digest and written by the group at WRITER UNBOXED, it features brilliant, new essays on how not only to push through your current challenges but to thrive throughout the process of writing a book. Are you just starting your novel, struggling with how to begin or what to focus on? Are you struggling with how to finish your first book, or even your third? AUTHOR IN PROGRESS features essays at every level of story creation, and is broken into 7 sections to help you to:

3. INVITE (critique)

Over 50 writers contributed to AUTHOR IN PROGRESS, including bestselling authors and industry professionals:

Porter Anderson
Julianna Baggott
Brunonia Barry
James Scott Bell
Tom Bentley
Sharon Bially
Dan Blank
Anne Greenwood Brown
Kim Bullock
Sarah Callender
David Corbett
Kathryn Craft
Lisa Cron
Keith Cronin
Margaret Dilloway
Jo Eberhardt
Anna Elliott
Bill Ferris
Jane Friedman
Tracy Hahn-Burkett
Gwen Hernandez
Kristan Hoffman
Steven James
Dave King
Jeanne Kisacky
Robin LaFevers
Allie Larkin
Erika Liodice
Donald Maass
Sophie Masson
Greer Macallister
Juliet Marillier
Julia Munroe Martin
Sarah McCoy
Kathleen McCleary
Jael McHenry
Catherine McKenzie
Liz Michalski
Annie Neugebauer
Jan O’Hara
Barbara O’Neal
Ray Rhamey
Erika Robuck
M.J. Rose
Vaughn Roycroft
Lancelot Schaubert
Susan Spann
Victoria Strauss
John Vorhaus
Therese Walsh
Heather Webb
Cathy Yardley

“AUTHOR IN PROGRESS is going on my keeper shelf. Because no matter what question I’m struggling with today, I know I will find the answer in its pages.” – Alex Kourvo

“There are tons of awesome writing books out there about everything from creating suspenseful plots to using humor, but few of them cover every single part of your writing journey. And none of them do it quite like AUTHOR IN PROGRESS…Less than $20, unlimited answers.” – Emily Nielson”

Learn more about AUTHOR IN PROGRESS on Amazon:…/…/ref=writunbo-20

Remember Why You Started



Writers: Are you looking for inspiration?

I’m “live” at Writer Unboxed today in a humbling post.

Remember Why You Started


Pinterest for Writers


I am a visual person. To write something well, I have to visit as many places in my books as possible. I spend hours scouring archives–in person and online–to find photographs of my subjects, their settings, their muses. Before I write I “cast” my books with living actors. Even when I read, I underline, scribble notes, highlight, draw pictures. I have to be able to see what it is I’m trying to capture with words.

Even if you are a writer who does not need much visual stimulation, you might consider your reader. Pinterest can be a powerful tool for helping her to see your characters, your settings, and your time period. It can supplement a work in a powerful way that continues the conversation even after the last pages are turned. Whether viewed before reading or after, your pin boards can enrich the entire story experience.

Here is a screenshot of my Pinterest page:

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 8.11.48 AM

You’ll find images associated with each of my books, day trips to my book settings, tidbits for readers, casting for movies (HELLO GEORGE CLOONEY WITH A MUSTACHE AS HEMINGWAY!) Lower down the page are boards for my own interests–house projects, decor, etc. Make sure the boards you want to share with the public are featured first.

Starting a Pinterest page is simple, and once you have an account set up, the red Pinterest icon will appear on the upper right side of your browser menu:

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 8.16.50 AMTo add photos from pages you search to your boards, simple click the icon at any website you visit. It will arrange a screen of images that may be pinned. Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 8.19.57 AM

Click on the image you want to pin, and a menu will pop up asking which Pinterest board you’d like to add it to, or you may create a new board. Add a description, hit enter, and voila!

Warning: Pinterest is addictive. You will find friends there. They will have great boards. Three hours will pass and you will find yourself scouring hundreds of images for brunch recipes, book recommendations, window treatment options, fantasy vacations, and cutest cat breeds–and you might not even like cats! Consider setting a timer to pull yourself out of the vortex of distraction.

Finally, consider sharing your boards. Post a couple times a month on your blogs and social media accounts with boards that have to do with your books. This will give you a chance to engage your readers and continue bringing your work to life.

Some excellent author Pinterest pages:

Tatiana de Rosnay

Karen White

Ariel Lawhon

Marianne O’Hara

Beth Hoffman

David Abrams

Who are your favorite authors on Pinterest? Are you on Pinterest? Do you have any helpful tips for making Pinterest meaningful to your readers? Happy Pinning!

Q&A with author Maryanne O’Hara


As the year closes, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time talking with other writers about process. It seems that many of my peers are involved in first drafts the way that I am, and no matter how many books one has under her pen, it is always like starting over.

One of my favorite writers, Maryanne O’Hara, was kind enough to answer some questions for me on her process, her reading recommendations, and her advice for about-to-be-published novelists. I enjoyed this interview very much, especially because there is comfort in hearing respected writers discuss the struggles and challenges of the work. I hope you enjoy it, too.

  1. From suffocating small-town life, to anti-Semitism, to unrealized ambition, you tackle many challenging themes in CASCADE, yet the novel never feels overburdened. Did you plan all of the plot lines before you began the first draft, or did the issues arise during the writing process? 

Oh, I wish I could plan out all my plotlines ahead of time! But until I develop the characters, until I discover who they are and what they want, I am feeling my way around in the dark. Once I see them, and have a (very) rough draft going, I begin to try to map out the story arcs, which is scary yet fun, and really makes me focus on what the heck I’m trying to do. I like stories that have a lot of layers; trying to weave them into a coherent and compelling narrative is a challenge I enjoy.

  1. Do you read a lot of fiction, or do you try to avoid it when writing your own? Who are some of your favorite writers?

I must say that when I am actively writing, I really cannot read anything less than stellar prose. I grew up loving the short stories of John Cheever, Alice Munro, and William Trevor, and so I often will read an “old-friend” favorite passage to get myself in the mood to write. I have so many favorite books that it is hard to choose, but I can say that for 2014 I would particularly recommend EUPHORIA, by my dear friend Lily King, which was just named one of the New York Times 5 best fiction titles of the year. Lily is incapable of writing anything but beautiful, wise prose, and she’s been a longtime inspiration to me. She has an amazing work ethic, much like yours, Erika! Another recent book that I deeply admired was WE ARE CALLED TO RISE, by Laura McBride. The kind of book that made me happy to be alive. Oh, and I loved NORAH WEBSTER, by one of my all-time favorite writers, Colm Toibin. Who just happened to grow up in Wexford, Ireland, where my husband grew up…

  1. CASCADE was the Boston Globe’s inaugural Book Club selection. Do you meet with book clubs in person or on Skype? What has surprised you about meeting with book clubs? 

The Boston Globe Book Club was a wonderful surprise, a much-appreciated honor. The Globe hosted meet-ups throughout the summer and I was able to meet with so many new readers, which is my favorite part of publishing. I do indeed visit book clubs—in person when I can, and via Skype, which allows me to connect with readers far from home. One memorable Skype meetup involved the book club putting its computer on a lazy Susan, and spinning it around so I could talk to everyone.

The most surprising thing about meeting with book clubs? Contrary to all the talk about book clubs being an excuse for people to drink wine and chat, I have found that most clubs are very dear to their members. Thank God the world still is full of interesting people who love to discuss books!

  1. Can you reveal anything about your current work in progress?

It’s a book about storytelling and the elusive nature of memory. I’m still in the “figuring it out” stage.

  1. What advice do you have for a writer preparing for publication of his/her first novel?

First off, I would say congratulations, and do try to enjoy it! I recently looked back at my journal entries around the time I was finishing CASCADE and they were somber, realistic, anxious. I knew how hard it would be to secure an agent and publish a book. There’s a lot of elation when you get that contract, and a whole new set of emotional ups and downs. Research all the ways you can help yourself sell that book. And then, no matter how well or poorly things go after the launch, try to hold onto why you write in the first place, and keep writing.


Good advice! Thank you, Maryanne.

Book Clubs: Feel free to contact Maryanne to Skype!

Writers, did anything resonate with you? Are you a plotter or a “pantser”? What fabulous fiction would you recommend reading while writing? 

Celebs Read Mean Tweets (or Authors Write Mean Reviews)


“Robuck has all the syntax of a three-legged cow.” ~Snarky Reader, Online Review Site

Every so often, I pour myself a glass of wine and enact the virtual self-cutting that is reading online reviews of my work. When I self-published my first book in 2009, the negative reader reviews used to wound me. They hurt my feelings. I obsessed over them. Five years later, I am a bit more hardened, but I have to be in a certain light and ironic frame of mind to read them. If I am gloomy, it is not a good idea to patrol the one and two-star reviews.

Last week, however, the above line from a one-star review made me laugh out loud. It was a good and memorable insult. While I do not agree with it, I appreciate the humor and general savagery because I have to confess something: I would rather a nasty one-star review with zingers like this to a recent three-star review that said, “Meh.”


Years of research, travel, lost sleep, agonizing, imaging, theorizing, writing, rewriting, and rewriting earned me a “meh.”

Please, readers, if the book does not move you to a positive or negative passion of some kind, do not review it.

But back to my snarky friend, I have seen some authors recently reading mean reviews in the style of Jimmy Kimmel’s popular “Celebs Read Mean Tweets” feature, and thought it would be fun to have a laugh over some particularly bad review stories.

So writers, if you are feeling up to it (play “The Eye of the Tiger” if you need to get pumped), please tell me your funny one-star reviews. Even if these criticisms make us giggle, they burrow somewhere in the brain stem to torture us when we sit down to write. Perhaps if we put them on paper, we can release them from our consciousness and have a laugh together.


Eight Ways to Make Time for Writing


My new novel FALLEN BEAUTY launched on Tuesday, and I have been overwhelmed with kind words and encouragement. It is a special thing to release a book, and I am blessed to have a network of family and friends who support me in my endeavors.

Inevitably, I get asked a question at launch time, at book clubs, on the sidelines of the hockey rink, and on social media: How Do You Do It All? Sometimes it is asked nicely, other times with suspicion, but it is always asked.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that question, and I want to qualify everything I’m about to say with the fact that I feel like I’m a mess–a Tazmanian-devil, swirling, hyper, scatterbrained mess. My house is often untidy. I’m forgetful. Sometimes I do things like throw my cell phone in the laundry basket to take downstairs, and instead of plugging it into the wall, I toss it in the washing machine and dryer with the clothes.

But that is not the answer people want to hear. They literally want to know how I balance writing and family life, with a husband and three children. As many of you know, there is no such thing as perfect balance. Sometimes I neglect my writing, other times, I neglect life. I try to alternate that time so that over time, something like balance is achieved. I also have learned how to save time, and my list below shows eight ways I save time and allot it for writing, so that I can stay on track with deadlines.

  • I don’t go to the gym. I have a 10 minute nightly routine I do before I go to bed.
  • I only watch TV I’ve DVRd while folding laundry. (Downton Abbey or Dancing with the Stars.)
  • I don’t take on classroom parent/PTA positions. (This is an area that I struggle with and feel judged about at times.)
  • I limit lunches out of the house.
  • I write 1000-2000 words a day. (Or revise 1000-2000 words a day.) If an average novel is around 90,000 words, you can see how a book can be written fairly quickly if there is enough discipline to write in 1000 word intervals.
  • I research the next book while writing the current.
  • I combine book tour travels with research trips.
  • I work at night. (Insomnia is a family curse. I have learned how to use it to my advantage.)

The bottom line is that this is a job. I happen to love my job, but it still requires discipline and a schedule. These tips might not be right for everyone, and I am certainly not saying they are how one should make time. Some of these sacrifices feel like sacrifices, but I have to make priorities that work for me.

Are any of these tips helpful to you? I would love to hear your suggestions for making time for writing.

**Photo Courtesy of BreakFreePhotography at